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The gap between policy and practice in disability rights and access in low and middle income countries is a multi-stakeholder and multi-factored effect. Effective and efficient collaboration between the interest groups or stakeholders like organizations of persons with disabilities, social welfare departments of local government structure like districts, ministry of health and education (in the case of Ghana), persons with disabilities ourselves, our belief systems and others are very much key in the gap between policy and practice. Subsequent paragraphs, throw more light on few of the things that causes this gap.

1. Responsible education from Pre-Natal and Post-Natal Care: Ideally, during pre-natal and post-natal care women, must be taught to appreciate the various types of disabilities at that very time where they are yet to give birth or has recently given birth to new born babies. Besides teaching them these, the social welfare department must also be around to educate them (the women) on the rights and benefits (support) that are in place for persons with disabilities. This would help the women appreciate that they would not be having such babies as burdens but there would be community support from the social welfare department and ensure the well-being of their new born babies with disabilities. As such, killing and abandoning babies or kids with disabilities would be a thing of the past. Also, other women would have now accepted that babies or persons with disabilities are a part of human diversity and would not make their children stigmatize children or persons with disabilities but would rather support persons with disabilities as a moral and civic responsibility. Quoting Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey, “If you educate a man, you educate only an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate an entire nation.” Women spend a lot of time with kids and train them in their childhood days more than fathers. As such, if the above is applied with the other factors below, from 20 to 30 years from now, we would have closed the gap between policy and practice especially for Africa since most of our population are youth who are the productive part of our population. Therefore, now is the ideal time to start inciting and creating change to bridge the gap.

2. Misconceptions: This is one of the key challenges existing as a gap between policy and practice. As a result of misconceptions about disability and persons with disabilities, there are a number of behavioral implications and effects towards persons with disabilities. These misconceptions start at an early age from the way we are raised up, the things we see, how we see people treat persons with disabilities in our communities, negative belief systems and others. All of these blur our sense of support and perception about persons with disabilities, but if the immediate above solution in regards to pre-natal and post-natal care training for women is applied or achieved, there is no doubt that we can build a very much inclusive society in 20 to 30 years from now. This is because, negative misconceptions would have been nullified to enhance a better sense of support and perception for persons with disabilities and this would help bridge the gap as a better sense of support and perception for persons with disabilities would be seen as a moral and civic responsibility. Also, most of the books I read since early childhood never talked about persons or children with disabilities nor identified them as good people (in most scenarios). As such, the should be more books or at least each and every author for children’s books, must include positive and realistic things about persons with disabilities to ensure that these children would have a better sense of support and perception for persons with disabilities.

3. Effective education and resourcefulness of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities: In some areas of my country, some leaders of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities do not even know of the constitution of their organizations together with the policies and rights concerning persons with disabilities. As such, the are not able to claim what they deserve to empower themselves and improve upon the livelihoods of people whom they lead. Therefore, effective education and resourcefulness of the leadership of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities, must be looks at critically and continuously improved upon to empower Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and persons who are within them.

4. Effective education, resourcefulness, effective supervision and accountability of social welfare departments in the various districts: Social welfare departments are very much needed when it come to the issues of persons with disabilities. As a matter of fact, some disabilities can be mitigated at an early age, but due to financial constraints, parents are not able to carry these out to help their babies and children with disabilities. With established funds like the 3% of the District Assembly Common Fund in Ghana and others, such issues could be mitigated at a very early age. Also, most of the social welfare departments do not work at all on issues of persons with disabilities. As such, effective education to continuously improve upon their resourcefulness coupled with effective supervision and accountability would ensure that all the above explained solutions would be practicalised to bridge the gap between policy and practice. In regards to the solution concerning pre-natal and post-natal care training for women, officers in the social welfare departments in 20 to 30 years to come would see doing this as a moral and civic responsibility and not merely a job requirement.

5. Frequent review, improvement and timely implementation of policies concerning persons with disabilities: Changing times and increasing population densities or sizes result in different livelihood conditions for persons with disabilities. Therefore, bridging the gap between policy and practice is not always enough, but also frequently reviewing and improving upon policies and actions plans (practice) coupled with timely implementation and current statistical data would ensure that the right results or objectives are achieved whilst bridging the gap between policy an practice. As such bridging the gap between policy and practice would be made efficient and effective anywhere, at any time, and including other variables.

In correspondence to this question and my submission above, I have applied to this year’s CIP Fellowship to carry out intensive research to resolve these challenges. Also, the 20 to 30 years used above implies a duration within which the effect of the above objectives or solutions would have been achieved above 95%, in terms of rating.